LAS VEGAS – It’s hard to beat a good team three times, darn near impossible to pull it off four times.
The Elko boys basketball team was unable to take down Fallon after three-consecutive wins over the Greenwave, the Indians falling on a buzzer-beating triple by junior Elijah Jackson in overtime of the Division 3A state final Saturday, at Orleans Arena, in Las Vegas – lifting Fallon to a 57-54 win for all the marbles.
Elko tallied the first bucket of the game from an offensive board by senior Ronin Rowley, who dished to the right block to freshman Michael Klekas for a deuce.
Fallon junior Thomas Steele tied the game with a bucket on the right side, but senior Alex Klekas gave the Indians a 4-2 lead with a pair of free throws.
The score was knotted once again with a slash inside by senior David McFalls, and the Wave took an 8-6 advantage on Steele’s second score of the ballgame.
Elko gridlocked the game at 6-6 in transition, the ball finding senior Joe Simpkins for a layup.
Fallon scored the next three points on a deuce by senior Trey Rooks and a free throw, the Wave leading 9-6.
Elko booked five in a row, Alex Klekas sticking a triple from the left wing and senior Cooper Jones making a steal and racing ahead of the pack for a layup.
The Wave scored on a baseline drive by McFalls for a dish to senior Johnny Cooley in the middle.
Fallon grabbed a 13-11 lead with a drive and finish down the right side by Jackson, but the Indians deadlocked the contest once more with an isolation set for Alex Klekas – who beat his defender off the bounce and dropped a runner from his right to the left side.
After one, the state final was a dead heat – locked up at 13-all.
To open the second, sophomore Sean Klekas got around his defender and hesitated in the middle for a pull-up floater and a 15-13 lead for the Indians.
Jackson used his bunnies for a hanging And-1 through contact, the free throw giving the Wave the edge at 16-15.
Once again, the Indians were gashed by penetration from Jackson – who drew Rowley’s third foul for another finish and the freebie at the 5:45 mark of the second quarter.
Jackson took control, pushing the ball in transition and pump-faking his man into the air for a bank shot and a 21-15 lead.
Sean Klekas stemmed the 8-0 run with a pull-up jumper, but Jackson strung up a triple from the left wing for a 24-17 advantage – giving him 13 points in the half.
The Indians tightened up their defense and forced consecutive turnovers, leading to a bucket on the right block for freshman Michael Klekas on a post-feed pass from Sean Klekas.
Another takeaway resulted in a Fallon foul, Sean Klekas making 1-for-2 at the stripe and pulling Elko to within four at 24-20.
Elko drew Steele’s third foul with 2:20 on the clock, but the Indians were unable to take advantage and committed an offensive foul – Fallon giving the ball back with a turnover – the Wave making a steal on the Indians’ next possession.
At the break, the Indians were in a dogfight – trailing by four at 24-20.
The Indians continued to be ice cold from the floor to start the third quarter, neither team scoring for more than two minutes.
Alex Klekas broke the drought with a backdoor cut and find from Rowley, but McFalls netted two free throws for Fallon.
On the other side, Alex Klekas flexed his muscles – dropping and And-1 on the baseline and the freebie.
Steele gave the Wave a three-point lead with a deuce, but the Indians set their feet and drew a charge against Jackson – his third personal with four minutes remaining in the frame.
However, he came away with a steal and dashed to the tin for an And-1 plus the free throw.
Alex Klekas took Jackson to the post and dropped a hook shot, but Fallon extended a possession with an offensive rebound and fought through a foul for his third And-1 of the contest – the free throw opening a 27-34 lead.
Elko took a timeout with 2:07 on the clock, trailing by seven.
From the reset, Sean Klekas knocked down a big three from the right side.
Jackson went up high for an offensive board and followed his shot home for a 36-30 lead.
Entering the state-championship fourth quarter, the Indians needed to dig out of a six-point hole.
The Indians committed a lane violation and Sean Klekas hit his only attempt, but the Wave went empty on a trip to the line.
Elko was whistled for a moving screen, and Rooks scored in the middle for Fallon.
Klekas banked home a runner through the fourth foul of the game by Jackson, the free throw pulling Elko to within four at the 6:11 mark.
The Indians missed a three, and Rooks scored on the right block – Elko committing a travel on its next possession.
Fallon took a timeout as it was caught in a trap along the sideline, the Wave leading 40-34 with 5:04 remaining.
Alex Klekas pulled the Indians to within four after a Fallon turnover, going back to the well – adding another runner floater in the middle on consecutive trips.
Elko trailed by two at 40-38 with four minutes remaining.
The Indians missed the front end of a 1-and-1, and senior Hayden Strasdin gave the Wave a four-point lead with a bucket on the left block.
With 2:53 on the clock, Elko missed another single-bonus.
The Indians couldn’t finish a layup on the break, and Michael Klekas fouled out with 2:05 on the clock – sending Strasdin to line and hitting one free throw.
With 1:53 remaining, Rowley took a swipe across the face and dropped a layup – sending Steele to the bench with five fouls.
The free throw was pure, Elko trailing by two at 43-41.
Rooks was left wide open in the middle, McFalls finding him a bunny.
Alex Klekas drove the left side and pulled up for a bank shot with 1:11 remaining, the Indians down 45-43.
Rooks grabbed a loose ball after a near turnover, finishing at the rim.
On the other end, Rowley banged home a three from the right wing – Elko trailing by one at 47-46.
With 22 ticks on the clock, Strasdin was fouled and drained both shots.
The Indians were called for an offensive foul with 15 seconds remaining.
With 14.1 on the clock, Elko fouled McFalls – who missed the front end of the 1-and-1.
The Indians advanced the ball across midcourt and took a timeout with 5.8 seconds remaining.
Elko worked the ball off a screen and found Sean Klekas on the left wing for a cash-money three at the buzzer.
Overtime in the state final, the game tied up at 46-all.
Jackson went 1-for-2 at the line, and freshman Dawson Dumas banked in a shot from the right wing after a pump fake for the Indians.
Fallon took a 52-51 lead on a bucket by Rooks from a dish by Cooley, but Rowley hammered a three on a dish from Alex Klekas – Rooks tying the game with a minute remaining.
Elko went to a four-corners offense and was going to hold for the final shot but committed a double-dribble and turned the ball over to Fallon with five ticks remaining.
The giveaway proved costly, as Jackson took the inbound pass and dribbled down the left wing – stopping on a dime, letting his defender fly by and rising for a state-winning dagger from distance.
Fallon took home the state championship with a 57-54 victory in overtime, Elko winning the season series three games to one but the Wave capturing the high side of the contest that counted most.
Jackson finished with a game-high 25 points – none bigger than his final of two 3s – Rooks also hurting the Indians with 14 points.
Alex Klekas led the Indians with a game-high 23 points, Sean Klekas scoring in double digits with 12 points – hitting two triples and one sent that sent the game to OT – Rowley approaching double figures and scoring all nine of his points after the break, splashing two 3s.
Michael Klekas closed with four points – Elko’s offense capped by two points apiece from Simpkins, Jones and Dumas.
Fallon’s offense was finished by six points from Steele, five by Strasdin, four from McFalls and three by Cooley.
The Greenwave (26-3 overall) earned their first state basketball title since 1971, and the Indians (25-3 overall) tied their program record for wins in a season.